Skip to content

Health and Safety: An employee’s responsibilities

security g307e9c64d 640

Health and safety is a vital component of any business operating in any industry. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA) says that, for the most part, it’s the employer’s responsibility to make sure everyone is safe. This includes employees, visitors or the general public.

While it is vital and necessary for employers to know their roles and responsibilities in providing a safe workplace, it is just as important for the employees themselves to know what their level of responsibility is. In this article, we have compiled a brief overview into what an employee must be aware of.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, employees have the following duties:

· Take reasonable care of themselves

· Take reasonable care of others

· Cooperate with employers

· Not to misuse or mistreat work equipment

Employees have further duties under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) and they are:

· Use machinery, equipment, dangerous substances, transport equipment, means of production or safety device in accordance with the training and instruction provided

· Inform employers of any dangerous work situation

· Inform employers of any matters representing shortcoming in arrangement for health and safety

So, what does all this mean, let’s look at each one individually:

· Taking care of your own health and safety

One aspect an employee needs to be aware of is actively taking care of their own personal health and safety whilst in the workplace. Employees must avoid anything that may compromise their own health and safety such as taking short cuts, messing around in the workplace or not following safe systems of work and company procedures. There is no ‘one size, fits all’ solution for how to action this – as workplaces differ depending on your industry and role, and the everyday hazards you might face. For example, Employee A, who works as an office administrator, will need to ensure they have set their workstation and chair up correctly and sit correctly at their desk to avoid potential back problems.

Employee B works on a construction site, so has to ensure they are aware of the site rules, wear the correct mandatory Personal Protective Equipment and conduct themselves in a way that will not put themselves at harm’s way.

An employer will carry out a risk assessment at each workplace to identify the hazards, risk and control measures required to reduce the likelihood of injury or ill-health to employees or any others affected by the work activities. The risk assessment will inform employees how they can protect themselves from harm.

· Not putting others in danger

As well as looking after themselves, employees are also required to ensure they are not putting anyone else in danger. This includes anyone that may be affected by your acts (or failure to act).

For example, forgetting to barrier off a newly dug excavations and another operative then falls into it injuring themselves.

· Co-operating with employers

Employee’s must cooperate with their employer and follow any instruction that is provided regarding health and safety.

Employees must implement employers health and safety procedures, and stick to them. This includes site rules, safe systems of work, implementing control measures detailed in risk assessment and complying with legislation.

For example – the company requires long hair to be tied back and hair net to be worn – it is the employees responsibility to ensure they tie their hair back and wear the hair net.

Your employer must provide you with training, PPE, safe access/egress, safe working environment and assess the risk.

· Employees must not misuse or mistreat work equipment

You must not recklessly interfere with or misuse work equipment or anything else that may increase the risks to health, safety or welfare.

This could include things such as temporarily repairing faulty equipment, overriding safety devices, ignoring and overriding faults on equipment, removing safety guards etc.

· Employees must use equipment in accordance with instruction and training

The MHSWR specifically requires employees to use equipment and machinery in accordance with the training and instruction provided by the employer. This reinforces co-operation with your employer.

· Reporting any hazards, illnesses or injuries

It is also the responsibility of the employee to inform the company of any dangerous acts, unsafe conditions or any faults or defects to equipment. This could come in the form of a loose wire in a plug socket in an office environment or seeing another employee without protective goggles on a construction site whilst cutting metal – it is the responsibility of the employee to report things of this nature.

Additionally, this also extends to the health of an employee, if something may affect their ability to work then the company must be made aware. An example of this could be physical or mental illness, injury or pregnancy.

Regardless of what the issue may be, the responsibility lies with the employee to ensure the company can make reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

Our team would be happy to answer any questions on the roles and responsibilities of both the employer and employee when it comes to health and safety, as well as provide training on several aspects including: accident investigation, COSHH hazardous substances, construction design management, fire and health and safety awareness, managing contractors, manual handling and risk assessment/method statements.

Please get in touch for more information.